One-hit wonder extended catalog: Hoku

hokuBY SCOTT PHILLIPS

Each week, Poor Scholars digs a little bit deeper into the catalog of an infamous “one-hit wonder” by listening to their other “top hits” on Spotify to explore what exactly went wrong. This week, Poor Scholars’ Scott Phillips breaks down the other songs of Hoku.

The Hit

From the Dakotas to D.C., the nation is in the midst of a gigantic (“gigantic” by today’s standards; wimps) snow storm and a ton of people have off from work and school today for a “snow day.”

This reminds me of being a kid, having off from school, going sledding, building snow forts, building giant piles of snow in the middle of the street so cars couldn’t get through and the shitty Nickelodeon movie Snow Day.

Snow Day is an entirely forgettable movie like most of Nickelodeon’s entirely forgettable fleet of films (Good Burger notwithstanding) and has the loose running plot of “kids vs. adults” that all of these movies seem to have.

Although Snow Day was atrocious, the film’s soundtrack did score a Billboard Hot 100 hit when Hawaiian native Hoku belted out “Another Dumb Blonde.” The track reached No. 27 on the Billboard charts, in large part due to radio airplay from kid-friendly stations, and Hoku was appearing on shows like All That and concert specials with 98 Degrees on the Disney Channel before the release of her first album.

Hoku broke “Another Dumb Blonde” at the perfect time: The height of the boy band/pop princess explosion. But while Hoku wasn’t nearly as bad musically as some of the “bubble-gum pop” that broke during that era, she just didn’t seem to receive the backing she needed to launch her career to the next level like so many of her peers. “Another Dumb Blonde” was Hoku’s only song to chart — it went Gold — and her self-titled debut album tanked three months after the initial release of the single.

The other “top hits” on Spotify

Perfect Day” – A shocking first for the “One-hit wonder extended catalog”: A non-hit song as the artist’s No. 1 top hit on Spotify! That’s right, “Perfect Day” is actually rated ahead of Hoku’s “hit”, “Another Dumb Blonde”, on Spotify. This uncommon occurence on Spotify is definitely happening because “Perfect Day” happens to be the theme song from Legally Blonde while also being featured in commercials for JCPenney and Sandals Resorts. Hoku went from writing a song called “Another Dumb Blonde” to writing the theme song for Legally Blonde. If you wanna feel old, Legally Blonde is almost 12 years old.

How Do I Feel” – Typical “boy-meets-girl” pop number that mentions that the guy Hoku is interested in is with a brunette. This was the second single off of the self-titled debut and it never reached the charts. I know Hoku didn’t want to be labeled as “Another Dumb Blonde” but she can’t stop mentioning that she is blonde in her songs and it annoys me.

“The thing that I miss most: Is missing you.” is in the hook.

NEXT!

You First Believed” – This does not sound like a standard early-2000s pop song, and that’s a good thing. Hoku goes solo over an acoustic guitar and lets her voice and her lyrics do the talking instead of the cheesy pop hooks, barely-showing midriff and choreographed dances that dominated the videos of her peers at the time. This is a real song and if Hoku had more songs like this one, she might have had more of a following.

The Verdict

Hoku has more musical abilities than many of her pop contemporaries — she plays guitar and writes a lot of her own music — but because of a lack of record label backing, Hoku peaked after her first track. She never released a second album with Geffen and cited her image as a reason for leaving the label.

This quote from an interview with Pollstar is especially interesting:

“My biggest struggle is the quest to keep everything that I do as innocent as possible. In this business, everyone’s afraid to try something new because basically, what they do is see a formula that works like young, blond pop star becomes a superstar with ‘Baby One More Time’ and they want to re-create that. … They wanted to make me into Britney Spears.

“… I didn’t feel comfortable. I’m a Christian, and for me, it’s not necessary to bare my midriff and wear all these things that make people think the wrong thing,” Hoku said. “I don’t want to be seen as a sex symbol. … They keep trying to get me to do it … .”

Her firm stance and what might be termed a lack of ambition is really a lack of selfishness coupled with a desire to help others, which rewards her with more than dollars. “I have the potential to be a really big role model to a lot of girls. … If you’re presenting yourself in a way that would compromise your values … then you have no integrity left,” she said. “There’s really no young girl role models that allow [kids to act their own age] and not be ashamed.”

So Hoku essentially left her pop music career behind to stay true to herself, which is certainly commendable. Guess she’s really not “Another Dumb Blonde” after all.

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